The solar industry is continuing to gain steam. Last year it raised $25.3 billion, only slightly less than the $26.5 billion raised in 2014, according to a new Mercom Capital report. However, certain sectors of the solar industry set records last year, particularly commercial and residential solar funds, which raised $5.5 billion. In addition venture capital invested $1.1 billion in 2015.
"Overall it was a good year for the solar sector considering the turbulence in the stock markets and trouble with yieldcos in the second half of the year," said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group, commented. "The extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was a much needed boost for the sector, paving the way for a strong 2016."
The public financing—residential and commercial solar—had its strongest year ever, raising almost $6 billion in 38 deals. In 2014 the sector raised a healthy $5.2 billion across 52 deals. In addition, there were seven Initial Public Offerings in the sector, which raised a total of $1.8 billion. The IPOs were made by Sunrun, Xinte Energy, CHORUS Clean Energy, SolarEdge Technologies and Grenergy Renovables, according to Mercom.
New financing mechanisms are also gaining investments, according to the report. "Yieldcos raised $1.1 billion in two IPOs, TerraForm Global Yieldco and 8point3 Energy Partners," the company said. Securitization of solar power is still relatively small compared to other financing mechanisms, but securities by raised by SolarCity, SunRun, BBOXX and AES reached $335 million.
While the majority of debt financing, $10.9 billion, was in China, the world saw a total of $18.3 billion in debt financing in 2014. That's slightly down from $20 billion in 2014. Funding for large-scale projects also was down slightly in 2015 to $11.6 billion in 124 deals compared to $14.2 billion in 144 deals in 2014.
The extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) also is likely to benefit fundraising for the third-party financing solar companies like SolarCity and Sunrun. "With the ITC extension, we predict third-party owned financing companies will continue to raise residential and commercial funds in large numbers," Prabhu said. Such companies have raised more than $17 billion since 2009.
The solar industry also continues to draw venture capital dollars, which shows that innovation in the sector is not over yet. In 2015 it drew $1.1 billion in such capital.